Getting “bumped” has been a well-known problem for cyclists using Caltrain. But it happens to regular passengers as well:
Q. I took Caltrain to an event near the Giants baseball park on a recent Saturday evening, planning to return on the 10:15 p.m. departure. I chose Caltrain so I wouldn’t have to worry about parking near the stadium on game day nor driving after drinking. I tagged my Clipper card at 10:12 p.m., which should have been plenty of time to get on the train, but as I was about to go though the doors the gate agent shut the doors and stopped about 10 of us from boarding.
The agent said the train was full and we would have to wait until midnight for the next train. I am sure there was room to stand SOMEWHERE (in an aisle, on a bike car).
A Christine the Caltrain spokeswoman had this to say:
“Caltrain has a seated capacity of 650 passengers and is designed to carry several hundred standing passengers. In our effort to carry as many passengers as possible on these special event days, many trains are operating with more than 1,000 riders. People are standing in the aisles as well as in the vestibules by the doorways. The conductor is responsible for the safe operation of the train. It is up to his or her discretion to determine when the train is full.
While we would like to offer additional service, our ability to provide more service is limited by equipment and crew availability. Caltrain is exploring the possibility of purchasing or leasing additional passenger cars. Unfortunately, up to this point, we have not been to locate any available equipment.”
The problem isn’t just a lack of equipment, but also too many seats. Removing some seats (possibly converting to flip-up seats) is a quick and inexpensive solution. During off-peak times, it would permit more bikes to board. And it would accommodate the large crowds after ballgames.
Caltrain customers have been suggesting this for decades. So why doesn’t Caltrain investigate this solution? Because staff has been extremely stubborn about it, and continues to believe that maximizing the number of seats is the best way to run the service. Even though removing seats would increase capacity — and farebox revenue.